Check if 256 acres will do for afforestation, NHAI asks Hry

  • | Tuesday | 28th November, 2023

Gurgaon: NHAI has asked the Haryana forest department to check if a 256-acre parcel of land suggested by an environmentalist can be used for compensatory afforestation (CA) to make up for green losses after the authority was allowed to cut trees to widen the Pataudi-Rewari-Gurgaon highway.The land falls in Musedpur, Gahi Nathe Khan, Palari and Mehchana villages of Gurgaon.The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) wrote to the department after the issue went up to the Supreme Court, where the petitioner submitted a list of areas within Gurgaon where plantation could be taken up.In its order on October 16, the SC bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti told the authority to consider the petitioners suggestions. Around 12,000 trees were felled to make way for an extra lane on 43km of the highway, but no saplings have been planted under the CA project till now. Compensatory afforestation rules require the development agency – in this case, NHAI -- to plant at least 10 saplings for each tree lost to construction.Initially, compensatory afforestation was planned in Panchkula, 300km away from the highway. At the time, officials had said that there werent large tracts of land for any plantation near the highway. Opposing this, environmentalists alleged that planting trees far from the project sites would not help restore the areas lost green cover. They then moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which directed NHAI to get a fresh clearance from the state government on compensatory afforestation within 10km of the highway. The case reached the top court, which also told NHAI to carry out compensatory afforestation in areas within Gurgaon.On November 13, NHAI project director Dhiraj Singh wrote to the forest department, saying: …the cost of compensatory afforestation and additional compensatory afforestation along with other statutory deposits have been deposited by NHAI in the CAMPA account of Haryana as per the demand of the forest department.It added: Since the compensatory afforestation was to be raised by the forest department over the degraded forest land twice the forest area diverted, from the funds of NHAI, the compensatory afforestation over area referred in Stage-I clearance may be raised over the land identified in the map as per the Supreme Court order to comply the with the conditions of Stage-I forest clearance. You are requested to verify the land identified in the map as per the direction. If it seems suitable, modify the CA land accordingly.A forest department official on Thursday confirmed that they had received the request. We will examine the area and check the feasibility. We will reply by next week after a status check of the locations, said Rajeev Tejyan, divisional forest department, Gurgaon.Activist Vaishali Rana said the land parcel suggested by petitioner Vivek Kamboj — also an environmentalist — was in Musedpur, Gahi Nathe Khan, Palari and Mehchana.The gram panchayats of these villages have leased out land measuring a total of 256.37 acres to the Haryana forest development corporation limited for agro-forestry. These lands fall in the Gurgaon division, wherein the highway project also lies. This shows availability of suitable land for compensatory afforestation within the district, she said.

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